When His Blessings Don’t Meet My Expectations

God always blesses obedience, even if it is not in the ways I expect. He always fulfills His promises, but these don't aways equal our expectations.

When His Blessings Don’t Meet My Expectations

May 28, 2020

Not every act of obedience brings the expected reward.

Although true, this statement creates some dissonance with my soul. I always believed if I did A, B and C, then D, E, and F would logically follow. I know better. I can point to times I did everything right, but…

  • the relationship failed.
  • the job went to someone else.
  • the opportunity didn’t materialize.

When this happens, my natural tendency wants to question God and wonder why He didn’t bless me with the expected reward. Especially when I stepped out on faith and in obedience to His calling. Why would He ask me to do something, but then withhold the promised reward?

Jesus told a parable in Matthew 20 which helps me see the fault in my thinking. In the story, a master hired workers for his vineyard. In exchange for their labor, he promised to pay them a denarius, the going rate for one work day. The typical work day lasted twelve hours, from 6am to 6pm.

After hiring the workers at 6am, the master went out to the marketplace at four different times (9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 5pm). Each time, he noticed unemployed workers. Sending them to his vineyard, he promised to pay them “whatever is right” (Matthew 20:4). 

At the end of the day, the master’s foreman paid the workers, beginning with those hired last-at the eleventh hour (5pm). All workers received one denarius, regardless of their start time.

At this point in the story, I begin to question God. How could this be “right”? The workers hired at 6am brought the same question to the master:

So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ (Matthew 20:10-12 NIV)

In our humanistic thinking, those who work harder should receive more. Those who check all the boxes should win the prize. But Jesus never promised life would work that way.

The problem stems from believing our expectations equal His promises:

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ (Matthew 20:13-15 NIV)

The main point of this parable illustrates God’s generosity. Those who experience deathbed conversions will receive the same gift of salvation as those who live lives of faithful obedience. 

But this parable points to a secondary lesson. The workers hired at 6am received the promised denarius. Just like the master in the parable, God fulfills His promises to us. (Joshua 21:45; Galatians 6:9).

However, He doesn’t always reward us in the ways we expect. As I think back on different occasions where His reward did not meet my expectations, I see unexpected blessings:

  • A deeper walk with Him
  • Spiritual lessons learned on the journey
  • An enlarged circle of close friends
  • New and different opportunities for growth 

As I face unmet expectations down the road, I pray to remember:

Obedience often yields unexpected rewards.

Wherever the road should take you, I pray the same for you.

When His Blessings Don’t Meet My Expectations

May 28, 2020

God always blesses obedience, even if it is not in the ways I expect. He always fulfills His promises, but these don't aways equal our expectations.

Not every act of obedience brings the expected reward.

Although true, this statement creates some dissonance with my soul. I always believed if I did A, B and C, then D, E, and F would logically follow. I know better. I can point to times I did everything right, but…

  • the relationship failed.
  • the job went to someone else.
  • the opportunity didn’t materialize.

When this happens, my natural tendency wants to question God and wonder why He didn’t bless me with the expected reward. Especially when I stepped out on faith and in obedience to His calling. Why would He ask me to do something, but then withhold the promised reward?

Jesus told a parable in Matthew 20 which helps me see the fault in my thinking. In the story, a master hired workers for his vineyard. In exchange for their labor, he promised to pay them a denarius, the going rate for one work day. The typical work day lasted twelve hours, from 6am to 6pm.

After hiring the workers at 6am, the master went out to the marketplace at four different times (9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 5pm). Each time, he noticed unemployed workers. Sending them to his vineyard, he promised to pay them “whatever is right” (Matthew 20:4). 

At the end of the day, the master’s foreman paid the workers, beginning with those hired last-at the eleventh hour (5pm). All workers received one denarius, regardless of their start time.

At this point in the story, I begin to question God. How could this be “right”? The workers hired at 6am brought the same question to the master:

So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ (Matthew 20:10-12 NIV)

In our humanistic thinking, those who work harder should receive more. Those who check all the boxes should win the prize. But Jesus never promised life would work that way.

The problem stems from believing our expectations equal His promises:

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ (Matthew 20:13-15 NIV)

The main point of this parable illustrates God’s generosity. Those who experience deathbed conversions will receive the same gift of salvation as those who live lives of faithful obedience. 

But this parable points to a secondary lesson. The workers hired at 6am received the promised denarius. Just like the master in the parable, God fulfills His promises to us. (Joshua 21:45; Galatians 6:9).

However, He doesn’t always reward us in the ways we expect. As I think back on different occasions where His reward did not meet my expectations, I see unexpected blessings:

  • A deeper walk with Him
  • Spiritual lessons learned on the journey
  • An enlarged circle of close friends
  • New and different opportunities for growth 

As I face unmet expectations down the road, I pray to remember:

Obedience often yields unexpected rewards.

Wherever the road should take you, I pray the same for you.

2 Comments

  1. Louane DeAtley on May 29, 2020 at 12:05 PM

    I recently downloaded the free Bible study on Peter. I love the part where I have to picture it. Thanks.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on May 30, 2020 at 3:55 PM

      Thank you Louane! I’m glad you like the study.💕

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